tv U.S. Senate CSPAN November 1, 2011 5:00pm-8:00pm EDT
of the quorum be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: madam president, i ask unanimous consent to speak for what time i might consume but it probably would be in the neighborhood of 20 or 25 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: today i'd like to take a few moments to talk about the importance of oversight work of the congress, and it's a very critical function of congress. as one of the three branches of government, congress is a very important pillar of our government. our system provides for checks and balances between the three
branches of government. not only do we here in the congress legislate, but we must make sure that the other two branches are not overstepping their power. and that's the function of oversight. i've been conducting oversight of the executive branch since i first came to the senate. i take oversight very seriously. it's often an overlooked function for members of congress. it's not a glamorous function. it's a lot of hard work. some people have said recently that my oversight work is political. quite honestly, people who say that are the ones who are in fact political or maybe ignorant of what i do. because i happen to be an equal opportunity overseer. i don't care if it's a democrat or a republican occupying the
white house, if something needs to be investigated, i'm going to investigate it. in 2008, i was glad to hear the president-elect talk about the most transparent government ever that he was going to institute under his administration. unfortunately, up to this point this administration has been far from transparent, at least far from transparent in the way he said he was going to be so transparent. if any of us thought it was bad before, it's worse now. but my message about oversight is combined with a very important reminder about the rule of law. a philosophy upon which our country was founded. so i would like to talk about this administration's evasive and disappointing response to
congress about two different policies. one, the immigration policy and administrative enforcement of that. and operation fast and furious. i will first discuss immigration. since the founding of our country, our immigration laws have been a source of discussion. we were born a nation of immigrants and still well -- welcoming to people coming to our country legally. we have welcomed men and women from diverse countries and provided protection to many who flee from persecution. we have been generous, and we will continue to be generous. yet, we have seen our country face many challenges and have attempted to restrict immigration levels. the first immigration law of 1790 tried to limit citizenship
to certain individuals and instituted what is called the good moral character requirement. we created quotas in the 1920's to only do away with those quotas 45 years later. we even provided amnesty to millions of undocumented and hardworking people in the last big immigration law to pass congress in 1986. today we're faced with another challenge of how to deal with more than ten million undocumented persons. congress struggles with this challenge on a yearly basis. it's important for lawmakers to bear in mind that the policies we make should benefit our country in the long term, and that they must be fair to current as well as future generations.
people in foreign lands yearn to be free. they go to great lengths to be a part of our great country. it's a privilege that people love our country and want to become americans. at the same time, however, we must not forget our great principle that our country was founded on, and that great principle is the rule of law. we want to welcome new americans, but we need to live by the rules that we've set. we cannot let our welcome mat be trampled on, and we cannot allow our system of laws to be undermined. as a u.s. senator, like all of my colleagues, i took an oath of office to honor the constitution. i bear a fundamental allegiance to uphold the rule of law.
that's why i'm deeply concerned about the immigration policies that are coming from this white house. the president's policies may be an impermissible intrusion on congress's plenary authority over immigration law. they're pushing the envelope, and there's little transparency into their actions at a time when transparency was promised by this administration at the time that they were sworn in. as many of you know, last summer i exposed an internal homeland security memo that outlines ways president obama could circumvent congress and grant legal status to millions of undocumented individuals. so this is where oversight becomes very, very important. whether or not this memo is an
attempt to get around law that congress passes of which the president of the united states, under his oath of office, is pledged to faithfully enforce. this memo was entitled -- quote -- "administrative alternatives to comprehensive immigration reform." end of quote of the title. now that title in and of itself kind of signifies efforts to get around law, to get around what congress intended. its purpose was, in their words, to -- quote -- "reduce the threat of removal of certain individuals present in the united states without authorization." now why if you're -- that's the end of the quote. why if you're enforcing faithfully executing the laws of
the united states would you want to -- quote -- "reduce the threat of removal of certain individuals present in the united states without authorization"? isn't that word "without authorization" in and of itself an indication that people might be here illegally? the memo outlined more than a dozen ways to keep individuals in the country and to provide them with benefits or protections. i along with my colleagues in the congress have asked repeatedly for assurances that these options were not being explored. but you know what? our concerns have not been eased. the president as well as the secretary of homeland security have only said that they don't plan to provide such benefits to the entire population of undocumented individuals.
they claim that they'll use their discretionary authority and pursue relief on a limited and case-by-case basis. now the extent to which it's limited and it's case-by-case, you know, i confess the law probably provides for some administrative discretion. because if you're going to have people come to this country, congress is not going to be able to write a law that's going to take every instance into consideration. but i go back to that title, "the administrative alternative to comprehensive immigration reform." so there's a need to change the laws on immigration, update them. so if everybody admits there's that need, why do you need administrative alternatives unless you're trying to get around what congress intended?
so we're asking these questions, and yet we have no idea if it's true that they want to do it strictly on a case-by-case and very limited basis, because we have reason to believe that we're talking about hundreds of thousands of people. because we have no idea how many people are truly receiving the benefits and what standards are being used when determining that an individual is granted parole or deferred action. and these are the questions that in our oversight capacity we're asking, but we're not getting very many answers, as i'm going to show you here. again quoting the title, "administrative alternatives to comprehensive immigration reform," this memo from last summer also included a proposal to lessen -- quote, unquote --
extreme hardship standard. now, under current law, aliens are inadmissible for three to ten years if they have been unlawfully present in the united states for 180 days, in the case of three-year inadmissibility. or one year in the case of ten-year inadmissibility. the department has discretion to waive the grounds for inadmissibility if it would result in an extreme hardship. now, again, i'm willing to grant that there's some leeway in the law here. the amnesty memo states -- quote -- "to increase the number of individuals applying for waivers and improve their chances of receiving them, citizenship and immigration services could issue guidance or a regulation
specifying a lower evidentiary standard for extreme hardship." now extreme hardship ought to mean the same from administration to administration, not some special definition of extreme hardship because we have a president that maybe wants to find some way of getting around the immigration laws because he doesn't want to work hard enough to get immigration reform passed through the congress. proponents argue that this redefinition of "extreme hardship" is needed for family unity and that the three- and ten-year bars are overly burdensome. well, congress didn't consider the three- and ten-year bars to be overburdensome or we wouldn't have put them in the law in the first place. now if this standard is lessened, i'm told a number of undocumented individuals will be able to bypass the three-year
and the ten-year bars that are clearly laid out in the immigration and nationality act. my concern is that this policy, if implemented, is a blatant way to circumvent congress and the law to keep as many undocumented aliens in the united states as possible. it's difficult to ascertain if this change or any other proposal from the amnesty memo is being considered by the secretary. so, i asked the secretary about this very proposal when she testified before the committee on judiciary about two weeks ago. she admitted that the existing immigration law is difficult, but the secretary wouldn't deny that discussions about changing the standard are even taking place. well, what about the memo that
i've referred to? frankly, she refused to comment about the proposal during the hearing. indeed, she said she was focused on exercising enforcement functions which gets me to my next issue. a year after the 2010 amnesty memo circulated, we learned that the head of immigration and customs enforcement -- and we use the acronym "ice" for that, that's the agency responsible for enforcing the law, apprehending and deporting undocumented people in this country, directed his agents to use -- quote, unquote -- prosecutorial discretion on those with whom they come in contact. now, what does this mean? in june this have year assistant secretary morton released a memo directing "ice" officers to exercise prosecutorial discretion and to consider the
alien's length of presence in the united states, the circumstances the alien -- of the alien's arrival in the united states, particularly if the alien came as a young child. also take into consideration the alien's criminal history, the alien's age, whether or not there was service in the military, and whether they came here to pursue education in the united states. on august 19 this year, secretary napolitano announced an initiative to establish a working group to sort through an untold number of cases currently pending before the immigration and also before the federal courts to determine if they can be --quote, unquote -- administratively closed. now, this gets into big numbers.
there are more than 300,000 cases pending before the executive office of immigration review. the secretary claims that this process will allow them to direct resources at higher priority cases. this memo, an initiative outlined by the secretary, are concerning, especially to those of us who said that our country is based on the rule of law. these policies seem to contradict that very important philosophy underlaying our whole system of law. on september 26, this year, i led 18 of my senate colleagues in sending a letter to president obama expressing dissatisfaction with these prosecutorial
discretion policies. we said that this administration was encouraging undocumented aliens to come forward in hopes of relief. now, this letter to the president is part of our constitutional responsibility of oversight. it is going to the president of the united states that said he was going to have the most transparent administration ever in the history of the country. so wouldn't you think we would get a lot of answers? we asked the president to rescind the june memo and end the initiative outlined in august and requested that he make the secretary available to all members of the senate to explain how his immigration policies are consistent with the rule of law. very simple process. just have one of your cabinet people come up here and explain it all to us. you know what the president did? the president asked a bureaucrat from the department to respond to us on his behalf. the letter from this bureaucrat
didn't address any points that we made in our letter and show complete disregard for the concerns raised. you know, i tell a lot of people in both republican administrations -- republican and democrat administrations that i'm overseeing doing my constitutional responsibility of oversight that the longer you stone wall and when the truth comes out, the more egg you're going to have on your face. that's going to be true in this instance as well. so this is what we expect from the administration. we have many unanswered questions about this prosecutorial discretion initiative. questions, several questions i'll give you. for example, how many cases will the working group sort through? you know, you can quantify that
pretty easily. what standards will be used for adjudicating cases? in the rule of law, you ought to be able to tell us what's the process and what's the standard. will those already ordered removed be considered for release? in other words, if somebody had already figured out you ought to be removed from this country, then some are going to step in and say no, maybe you don't have to be removed. will those with a criminal conviction be eliminated from those for consideration with direction. we ought to know if you committed a crime in this country, besides coming here illegally, should you -- are you going to be removed or are you going to be given some discretion, what you call prosecutorial discretion? how much in taxpayers' money will be suspend for this effort and when will the working group finish its work? will the department of homeland security keep the committee
apprised and tell detailed information on who is granted a benefit, including work authorizations. what will happen to individuals who have their cases --quote, unquote -- administratively closed? now, these are questions that congress passes a law, the president takes an oath to faithfully execute those laws, and we have a constitutional responsibility to make sure that what congress intended is carried out, and we aren't saying that maybe congress' intent isn't being carried out. we want questions answered to determine whether or not it's being carried out, and these are pretty simple questions that you write to the president of the united states, you ask for the secretary to come and answer these questions for us. that doesn't happen. and we get a letter back from some low-level bureaucrat that doesn't even answer the
questions. so how far can you go and be morally and ethically correct as president of the united states, saying at the time you're sworn in you're going to have the most transparent administration that any -- that this country has ever seen and then stone wall congress -- stonewall congress on simple little questions like this policy that you want to carry out called prosecutorial discretion. so we await answers and can only hope that there will be more -- that they will be more transparent about these policies than they have on the amnesty memo, assuming we get answers to our questions. the future of our country hinges in part on the policies that this administration is making behind your backs. congress has a role to play, and that's not my position. that's the position of our
constitution. we need more sunshine in our government here in washington on amnesty and numerous other issues, including one of my oversight investigations that allows federal law enforcement operations that went critically wrong. so i'm now turning to fast and furious. this program was a multiagency effort run by federal prosecutors in arizona and supervised by officials in the justice department headquarters here in washington, d.c. the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives -- or as we refer to it here in washington as a.t.f. -- encourage u.s. gun dealers, federally licensed gun dealers, to keep selling guns known to be transferred to people, knowingly
transferring the weapons to third parties. these buyers are called straw purchasers, and there were lots of reasons for the gun dealers, the federally licensed gun dealers to be suspicious of this operation. the straw buyers were purchasing the kind of assault rifles preferred by the mexican drug cartels. they repeatedly bought dozens of weapons at a time, and then returned just days or weeks later to buy dozens more. they paid with paper bags full of tens of thousands of dollars in cash and bought very expensive, high-powered, 50-caliber sniper rifles. all of this was plenty of cause for dealers to report the sales to the a.t.f. as suspicious and
then stop making the sales in the future, but the a.t.f. had even more reasons to be suspicious than the gun dealers had because the drug enforcement administration or d.e.a. as we say it here in washington, the d.e.a. had tipped off the a.t.f. about the activities of the ring dealers, using information from a wiretap in a related drug trafficking case. so the a.t.f. knew that shom of the straw buyers were on -- knew that some of the straw buyers were on food stamps or were unemployed, so a legitimate explanation for all of the cash was very unlikely. most importantly, the a.t.f. knew that the straw buyers' guns ended up at crime scenes in mexico just days or weeks after being bought in the united states. a.t.f. knew all this information from the beginning of the
investigation in late 2009. as early as january, 2010, the d.e.a. wiretap had even collected detailed information about who the ring dealer was -- who the ring dealer was selling guns to, and that information was available to the a.t.f. yet our government allowed the ring of straw buyers to grow and operate freely for about a year. starting in late 2009, agents who later blew the whistle on the mishandling of the case were ordered to merely watch and record what the straw buyers were doing but not arrest them. the agents were not allowed to stop the straw buyers or even to question them. the agents were not even allowed to continue following the guns
once they were transferred to unknown third parties or stash houses. surveillance was simply abandoned. these details were apparent -- apparently not provided to gun dealers even though these gun dealers cooperate with the a.t.f. from the very beginning. the government installed hidden cameras in at least one store, and dealers notified a.t.f. each time one of the straw buyers came in for another purchase of guns. by march of 2010, the a.t.f. had gathered evidence that the intent of the straw buyers was to transfer these weapons to criminals and to mexican drug cartels. the a.t.f. applied for wiretap authority and supplied all the necessary details to the justice department here in washington, yet it was not until december december 15, 2010, that a single
one of the straw buyers was arrested. and just by coincidence or was it just for some other reason? the day of the first arrest was the day that u.s. border patrol agent brian terry was murdered. and you know what? two of the weapons bought right under the a.t.f.'s nose nearly a year earlier turned up at the murder scene. within a day, the straw buyers of those two guns was finally arrested. the other straw buyer, the other straw buyers were indicted a few weeks later in january, 2007. a.t.f. agents who knew the ugly truth blew the whistle. the whistle blowers made -- whistleblowers made sure that congress and the terry family were fully informed. i started asking questions and
have been asking questions ever since, but getting answers out of a justice department stonewalling is like pulling teeth. at first, the department explicitly denied the allegations in writing and officials implied it was all hogwash in a widely attended briefing for senate judiciary committee staff, but then the evidence started coming out document by document and witness by witness. the truth became so clear that it was no longer deniable. an internal briefing paper explicitly said that the strategy of the case was to -- quote -- "allow the transfer of arms to continue to take place." end of quote. emails proved that a gun dealer had prophetically worried that the operation could lead to the
death of a border patrol agent. but a.t.f. and department of justice officials reassured the dealers that cooperation was still necessary. they falsely assured the dealer that there were secret methods of stopping the guns before they went south. the house oversight committee issued subpoenas and held two hearings. my staff worked with them on two staff reports detailing the testimony in the documents that we have gathered. the justice department stepped in and tried to control the flow of information, but we continued to receive documents and information from confidential sources. the justice department provided provided -- the justice department provided documents from the a.t.f. files, but until yesterday, very few documents from the department of justice's own files.
the department waited to deliver them until halloween to produce the first substantial batch of documents from the department of justice, even though we asked for documents at the beginning of the summer. they also waited until the night before the head of the criminal division, lani brewer, was set to testify before the judiciary committee to provide 652 pages of documents. mr. brewer also admitted to knowing all about gun walking and -- in what's referred to as operation wide receiver as far back as april, 2010. now, we have to go through these new documents to see what they contain, but the first smaller batch of documents include several memos to attorney general holder that
appear to contradict the attorney general's earlier claim that he had never heard of fast and furious until sometime april this year. the documents also show that attorney general holder's current chief of staff received a detailed briefing 18 months ago, march of 2010. he was the acting deputy attorney general at the time, so obviously the number-two person in the justice department. the deputy attorney general even took detailed handwritten notes on the presentation. however, attorney general holder says that he didn't know anything about it until after the controversy became public. that's also what mr. brewer said today as well. i know the attorney general was at least aware of the
whistleblower allegations on january 31 this year because i personally handed him two letters about the issues in my office on that very day. as for exactly what else he knew and when, his statements will have to be tested against the rest of the evidence as we continue to investigate. included in the documents released recently were emails between senior justice department officials that express -- that explicitly talked about gun walking, and these memos dated october, 2010. gun walking is a term that the whistleblowers use for sitting by and not stopping the guns even though the guns could have been stopped and people arrested. these senior justice department officials were discussing whether the head of their criminal division should attend upcoming press conferences on
fast and furious, and wide receiver. the second case is that mr. brewer admitted to knowing about yesterday where a.t.f. had walked guns even before fast and furious. their concern was over how tricky the press conference could become because of the guns that were walked. you know, it's kind of common sense. if you can't talk about it in a press conference, you probably shouldn't be -- if you can't talk about it in a press conference, you probably shouldn't be doing it in the first place. so these memos show that they clearly anticipated the controversy even two months before agent terry was murdered. and before the whistleblowers came to me about it. this makes the initial false
denials even more outrageous. some have seized on the reference to a case from the previous administration that suggests that gun walking was nothing new and that our investigation is partisan. now, let me be clear. there is nothing, absolutely nothing partisan about my desire to get to the bottom of fast and furious. my motivation is to make sure nothing like this ever happens again, and the terry family ought to get the truth about their son's murder and also the untold number of mexican citizens ought to be righted who may have been victims of this operation as well. during my testimony before the house committee, i asked the members to put aside politics and just listen to the terry family because they were going to testify later on. and also to listen to the whistleblowers as they testified that very day.
but some people see everything through the lens of their own politics. rather than listen to the evidence, they want to blame the second amendment for agent terry's death. whoever pulled the trigger is the one to blame, not the second amendment. that is the person who should be brought to justice. the straw buyers who illegally bought the guns and the government officials who stood by and watched them do it all need to be held accountable. so that's the story of fast and furious so far. but what does it tell us about the rule of law in this great country we call america? when we talk about the rule of law, we're usually referring to the idea that government should make decisions consistently, and that being according to law. those decisions should be based upon some neutral principle rather than on somebody's
personal whims owe bias and those decisions should apply to everyone equally without allowing a lot of discretion for government officials to pursue their own agendas. in short, we should be ruled by laws, not men. our government gets its authority from the consent of the governed. representatives elected by the people write the laws, and the executive branch enforces them. however, over the years our government has grown so big and so complex that it's hard to hold government officials accountable for how they apply the law. in fast and furious, it has taken us months to sort out responsibility because of this problem. there are dozens of bureaucrats pointing fingers and shifting blame. there are dozens of lawyers parsing words and shuffling paper. at the end of the day, what we
know is that several people in government decided not to enforce the law. the law that they took an oath to faithfully execute. these people believed it was within their discretion to allow straw burrers who -- purchasers who operate despite all the evidence that law was being broken. in most other field offices, obvious straw buyers were stopped, questioned, and arrested, but not in phoenix, arizona. as one of the whistleblowers put it, operation fast and furious represented 5, quote, "colossal failure of leadership" at every level that was aware of it. just what each official knew at each level in each agency is something that needs to be clear without -- before our
investigation is complete. for the rule of law to function properly, there needs to be supervision, accountability, and consistency. and you know what? the transparency the president promised, transparency leads to accountability. government officials must know that their discretion to play around in gray areas of the law has limits. it is a job of elected leaders to enforce those limits on behalf of the people who elected them. but there are so many officials and so many decisions that accountability seems hard to impose. the president himself recognized this in the context of fast and furious back in march of this year. now, the president -- when the president was first asked about fast and furious on spanish
language television, he was pressed about how he could not have known about it, kind of the very same questions we're asking the attorney general, how could you not have known about it? so the free press in america asked the president how he could not have known about fast and furious. by then, three months after a border patrol agent had been murdered, and guns illegally sold appearing at the scene of the murder. so what did the president respond to spanish television? quote, "this is a pretty big government, the united states government. i've got -- i've got a lot of moving parts "end of quote. mr. president, exactly. that's with the problem. government needs to be limited. government needs to be focused. and government needs to be
constrained by the rule of law. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i ask unanimous consent the period for morning business be extended until 6:45 with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. yesterday in cleveland the largest metropolitan area, the second largest city in my state, i was part of a -- for want of a better term, a celebration of a public health victory for our country. i met on halloween with jeffrey widenhall of famer who is chairman of -- widenhammer, on consumer safety issues. that name may ring a bell with my colleagues because i mentioned his work on the floor of the senate, i mentioned on the floor of the senate his work in addressing the very real public health disaster in some
cases afflicting our children because of lead-based paint on many toys imported especially from china. back in 2007, dr. widenhamer both in the fall of that year and the spring of 2008 identified a number of products contaminated with highly leaded paint as part of an ashland university freshman chemistry class project he sent some of his students to dollar stores and -- to buy inexpensive halloween toys in the fall of 2007 and inexpensive easter kind of toys and ornaments in the spring of 2008 and what he found of 97 products he tested, 12 of them were contaminated with highly leaded paint. that's about one in seven products. they were candy buckets and drinking cups, plastic teeth the children will obviously put in their mouths, what they're
made for, i guess, had much, much too high levels of lead -- lead contamination and other hollywood prawssments many were products bought at leading national retailers. it was clear that our trading system, that our regulatory system, and that our corporations fail basic consumer and public safety standards. we think nothing, our companies apparently thought nothing of buying products from china that were inexpensive that looked good in terms of halloween and easter, that our children would use and didn't think much about what those products might have in them. dr. widen hammer after checking these products, we went to work and i commend especially senator pryor who worked in 2008 on legislation to if you will, revamp the consumer product safety commission through the consumer product safety improvement act to ensure that the cpsc had the resources and
funding to carry out its critical mandate. mr. president, how many times have we heard in the body, in this chamber, how many times do you hear in the house of representatives, how many times do hear it in the presidential debate, government is too big, got to get government out of our lives, can't do anything right. this was the case with the consumer product safety legislation, the safety improvement act where the government's involvement, the regulatory process actually saved lives. here's why. this year not long ago this halloween dr. widenhall of famer spent --, dr. widenweidenhamer sent his students out and they tested 75 products this year, and they found not one contained lead. we know what lead does to a child. if a child from lead-based paint chewing on the crumbling wood with lead-based paint
particularly in old old homes, particularly appalachian kids and old homes that are beginning to sort of decay, the paint and the wood sort of decays and crumbles and we know that lead in children's bloodstreams arrests their brain development. the children that ingest lead, mostly low-income children or children exposed to these halloween kinds of toys can ingest lead affecting, causing often retardation, causing their brains not to develop as quickly as they would. so this was a huge victory. this again, this legislation hasn't done everything we want, but i hear so often penal here dismiss any regulation as job killing. you hear -- you hear a conservative politician, usually endrawl -- in thrall to corporate america, to corporations that outsource jobs, you say regulation, you
can get the term before it is job killing. how about life saving, like life saving regulation that made a difference in a child ingesting lead? how about life-saving regulation which has cleaned up our air and cleaned our drinking water? how about life-saving regulation whennates worker safety rule for a prohibition on child labor safety rule? instead of job killing regulation every time. mr. president, clearly that's not the way it's often worked. so we see after my republican colleagues too often want to weaken these safety rules as they've tried to do, then they try to cut millions of dollars as they've prepared to cut house -- house republicans have tried to cut more than $3 million from the consumer product safety commission. we've got this new law in expect that can literally safe children's lives and make children more healthy, help their brain development, in effect in eugene, oregon and columbus, ohio, but then we
got these laws in place but if we cut back on the enforcement of these laws by cutting these agencies and taking away employees, then -- that inspect these, force these companies that make sure these companies are doing the right thing and not selling lead-based toys to american children, what have we? that's really unfortunate. the cuts would take us back to the very reason congress passed and president bush, a republican president, in those days, signed into law the consumer product safety act into law in the first place. mr. president, there are plenty of government regulations we must repeal or pull back. but tbh comes to -- it just seems my conservative colleagues don't know the difference between regulations that might actually affect jobs and regulations that clearly protect the public health and clearly protect the public safety. and when we saw -- we know the senate will prepare to debate the fiscal year 2012 financial
services government appropriations bill later this weefnlgt i call on my colleagues to support funding for the consumer product safety commission. we know what that does. we know it saves lives. we know it makes a difference in the lives of our children. madamr. president, i would liket just ask that the 23089ing remarks be in a separate place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: mr. president, i rise on a more somber note. i -- a longtime friend of mine, vick stew art -- victor s. s. stewart jr. died this week at the age of 85. he was a counsel letter to me, a -- a counselor to me, a friend, a teacher, someone who mentored me and so many other people in our county, in our staivment he dedicated his life to his communities and dundz. he leaves mind 10 children. he leaves behind family, friends. he leaves public servants behind him who he counseled about
lifer, politics, and public service. vick was a child of the great depression. he was born in the 1920's. he was a child of the new deism he believed in loyalty and true gaults. he believed in a citizen's responsibility to vote and to be a citizen. as i said, he was the father of 10, six disawrts, four sons. his wife helen, who survives him, he was married to for 62 years. i remember going to vick's -- vick and helen's 50th wedding anniversary and the number of children and grandchildren and friends in the comiewndz and the love that people felt and extended to both him and helen was just a sight to see. vick was a city council man, mayor of aleria, served in world war i i, a team player, a catholic youth league little league coach, and again a menner tmentorto people in politics, yg
people in baseball, in sporting activities, and especially to his children. he was a democratic party chair in loraine county for many years. he walked with the -- met with president kennedy, met with president johnson, met with president carter, and when they were in loraine county, he credits president johnson with so much of what we all should credit, again, our government doing -- the civil rights act, the voting rights act, the passage of medicare, the antipoverty initiatives of the johnson -- of the johnson great society program. when i think about what our government see abovencc do in partnership with the private sector, that's what brought us medicare, that's what brought us safe drink water, that's what brought us civil rights, that's what brought us head start. many of them passing in the mid-1960's. passage of legislation that our country still benefits from.
the young people sitting in front of us today, many of them will benefit from the pell grants that came out of the higher education act. senator whit whitehouse -- spoka group of us today about a forum he did at the university of rhode island and what those pell grants mean to some of the professors there who could go to college because of the pell grants. some of the young students there who see abovencc afford college because of the pell grants, and some older people who went comeback to school because of these pell grants and got an opportunity to further their education, as middle-aged parents. vick stewart was part of all that. vick stewart believed that the role of government in our communities could make a difference in people's lives, especially working families. so while he met with president carter and president kennedy and president johnson, his heart was always in the community. he cared most about working families, poor kids that didn't have the opportunity -- the opportunities of some more privileged people in loraine or
any other place in our county. that's what i admired about vick. i was so appreciative of the wisdom he would impart to me. we'd get together several times a year at breakfast or lunch and just talk about what i was doing, what he was doing. he was always so helpful that way. he offered his no-nonsense advice with a touch of humor and compassion and a healthy dose of common sense. he understood the value of a hard day's wonch he lived his life guided by that devotion to god. he was a devout roman catholic. to family he was a terrific father and husband to helen. friends, he counted some of us as people who were close to him and his love of country. we'll never forget his warmth and wit and wisdom. he always looked to the whole community, not just to the privileged, and understood that we need a strong -- he was sickened by this power of wall street and these huge executive
compensation that too many -- it's these huge salaries and bonuses that too many in our society on wall street and other places have taken. he -- his heart was always in the middle class and working families. he taught integrity, especially to young people. that's what i owe vick stewart so much. we've lost a true friend, we've lost a teen, we've lost a mentor who made a difference in the lives of so many of us. we mourn for vick stewart jr. we think of helen, we think of sons and daughters whom vick and helen have taught so well and raised so well over the last five-plus decades. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: r. president?
the presiding officer: yes, it is. mr. whitehouse: may i ask consent that the pending quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. 34r-7, imr. president, if we pae rebuild america jobs act, we will immediately invest $50 billion into our transportation infrastructure and generate hundreds of thousands of good jobs. and establish a national infrastructure bank, which will generate even more good jobs. we need these jobs during the current period of high
unemployment and upgrading our crumbling infrastructure will spur long-term growth and job creation in addition to the immediate employment benefits. so, i strongly support this bill, and i hope that our colleagues can be brought around as well. the rebuild american jobs act is one piece of the larger american jobs act, which when leader reid brought it to the floor, all 47 senate republicans chose to filibuster. instead of allowing us to begin debating, and if they wished, improving the jobs legislation. that filibuster blocked president obama's plan to cut payroll taxes for every single american workers, and it blocked his plan to offer business owners generous tax breaks to hire new workers and grow their businesses. economists estimated that the american jobs act would create
nearly two million jobs, 1.9 million jobs. perhaps for that reason, many pieces of the bill have received wide bipartisan support in the past. indeed, just last december similar jobs-creating provisions were included in the job creation and tax cuts act, which received 81 votes in the senate. the jobs bill that republicans blockaded was fully paid for through a 5.6% surtax on income in excess of $1 million. in other words, the only tax increase in the bill is a provision that pays for job creation in this country by having millionaires and billionaires who continue to enjoy the record-low tax rates brought on by the bush tax cuts
pay a little more, and only on their income over $1 million. no increase on the first million. a recent study by citizens for tax justice showed that the surcharge would only apply to the richest one-fifth of 1% of u.s. taxpayers, leaving the taxes of more than 99% of all americans -- if my math is right -- 99.8% of all americans unchanged. the rebuild america jobs act, which is one piece of the full jobs bill, is paid for with a much smaller 0.7% surtax on income above $1 million. having one-fifth of 1% of the
wealthiest americans pay less than 1% more in income taxes and only on income above $1 million of income hardly seems unreasonable to support hundreds of thousands of jobs for middle-class families in this economic climate. as we try again and again to advance jobs legislation here in the senate, the supercommittee we established in the budget control act is at work on recommendations to cut the deficit. getting the most fortunate and well compensated americans to start paying a fair share in taxes ought to be a logical component of any deficit-reduction plan. at least under a theory that we should have a progressive federal tax system, a tax system in which you pay higher rates of
tax the more money that you earn. well, in theory we have a progressive federal tax system, but in fact, do we? we're often told that the wealthiest americans are already shouldering too great a share of our tax burden. earlier this year one of the candidates, the leading candidate for the republican presidential nomination, told nbc that -- here's the quote -- "the top 1% of income earners pay about 40% of all taxes into the federal government." well, that sounds like a lot. the top 1%, 40% of all taxes? let's look at some data to see if the theory proves correct. the urban institute and the brookings institution, two very respected organizations, estimate that the total share of
federal taxes paid by the top 1% of taxpayers is in fact 22.7%, not 40%. so remember that for a moment. 22.7% is the amount of federal taxes that the top 1% of income earners pay. if you take a look at the long-term trends in income and taxation, it is revealing. according to the congressional budget office, between 1979 and 2006, the total effective federal tax rate for the top 1% of households fell. the tax rate went down almost six points, from 37% to 31.2%. and over the same period that
group, the top 1%, went from earning 10% of the nation's income to 22.8%. the amount of the nation's income that the richest 1% earn in this country climbed over that period from 10% to nearly 23%. they claimed an additional 13% of the nation's income. so go back to the number, the urban institute and brookings institution estimate that the total share of federal taxes paid by the top 1% of taxpayers is 22.7%. but the share of income that the top 1% takes is 22.8%. that is not a progressive tax system. they may be paying a lot in taxes, but it is proportionate
almost exactly to what they're taking out of the economy in income. the relative burden of the extremely wealthy in this country is going steadily down, not up, and it has just crossed to the point where it is no longer progressive. there is a tale of two buildings that may help explain why. this is the first of the two buildings. this is the helmsley building in new york city. it's on park avenue. it's a lovely, wonderful place, great building. and not surprisingly, some very successful and well-compensated people live there. it's also a big building. it's so big that it has its own zip code. and because it has its own zip code and because the internal revenue service calculates and
provides information about income by zip code, you can learn quite a lot about the occupants of this wonderful building. and what we know from the latest i.r.s. information that i've been able to find is that the very well-compensated and successful individuals and corporations who call this building home actually paid a 14.7% total, all in, all federal taxes, 14.7% tax rate in 2007. that rate is lower than the bureau of labor statistics tells us is what the average new york city janitor or doorman or security guard pays. so at least in this building, the fabulously successful and
well-compensated occupants of the building who live in those wonderful apartments on park avenue are paying a significantly lower tax rate in real life than the actual men and women who are their janitors, who are their doormen, who are their security guards. and it's not just some fluke about the helmsley building. we all remember leona helmsley saying it's only the little people who pay taxes. there is no ghost of leona helmsley making that true in this building. it's true across the board. each year the internal revenue service publishes a report consolidating the tax returns of the highest income 400 americans, and they publish that data. they don't get around to it very quickly, but in may they published the most recent data on the top 400 taxpayers in america for 2008.
in 2008, the top 400 earners took home an average of $270 million each. they earned more than a quarter of a billion dollars each that year, which is wonderful. that's the kaoepbd of country -- that's the kind of country we are. you can make a real fortune here. but work gets a little sketchy as on average those 400 extremely highly-compensated americans, they actually paid into the treasury of the united states an average federal tax rate of just 18.2% on adjusted gross income. 18.2%. we have spent time on this senate floor debating whether the top income tax rate should be 35% or 39.6%. folks, that is not what they
pay. the top 400 income earners, the $250 million a year crowd paid on average 14.2%. this means that the 400 highest-earning individuals in the nation in 2008, just like the occupants of this helmsley building, were paying rates lower than or equivalent to what regular working families pay. if you go back to the bureau of labor statistics and pulled out the information for the helmsley building, about the janitors, about the doormen and about the security guards, and you look to see who else in america is paying an 18.2% tax rate, if you're a single filer, you're paying an 18.2% tax rate in this country if you make $39,350 a year. and where i come from in rhode
island, the bureau of labor statistics says that that's about what a truck driver makes. $40,200 is what a truck driver makes. $39,350 is what it takes to put you in the income bracket where you're paying the same tax rate into our treasury as the 400 members of the $250 million a year club. so the choice is very clear. instead of moving forward on a jobs plan that independent economists agree will create millions of american jobs in the near term, we are facing an opposition here, fighting to make sure that people making $250 million a year pay lower federal tax rates than regular working middle-class american families. so that's the story of the first building, the helmsley plaza. this is a different building.
this is the ugland building. it's called ugland house and it doesn't look like much but it's near the lovely aqua marine beaches of the cayman islands. what's interesting about this little building is that 18,000 -- 18,000 corporations claim that they're doing business here. that's not a very big building. the notion that 18,000 corporations are doing business out of this building, that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "small business." but there's no real business going on here. the business that's going on here is funny business under the tax code. the presiding officer: the senator has consumed 14 minutes. mr. whitehouse: may i ask
permission for three more minutes? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: so, it is the companies that are doing business here. they're not real companies. they're phony baloney shell corporations that are designed to hide assets and to play games with the tax system. this income never even makes it into the 18.2% of the helmsley building. this gets hidden away completely. so, mr. president, when our tax system is rigged so that it permits billionaires to pay lower tax rates than truck drivers pay, it allows the wealthiest to avoid taxes by hiding assets in phony offshore corporations, something, mr. president, is not right. with multitrillion-dollar budget deficits threatening our
nation's prosperity, we've got to do something to make our tax system fair for regular americans. i've been working on legislation which would ensure that millionaires and billionaires pay an effective tax rate at least as high as is paid by middle-class families. this would require all taxpayers with income over $1 million per year indexed to inflation to pay at least a 25% rate. a 25% rate is the marginal rate that middle-class taxpayers currently pay on income from about $35,000 a year of income to about $48,000 a year of income, depending on the size of the family and the deductions that they get. it seems fair to me to ask people at the highest end of the income spectrum to be paying at least the tax rate that middle-class families in the
$34,000-$84,000 range actually pay. it simply doesn't make sense to have the wealthiest abusing these tax gimmicks to pay lower tax rates than middle-class families. so whether it's leader reid's surtax or my proposal, i hope we can act to ensure that the most successful americans actually pay their fair share of our national tax burden to restore our nation to its economic strength. i thank the chair for his courtesy. i thank the -- my distinguished colleague from michigan to her courtesy. and i yield the floor. ms. stabenow: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: thank you, mr. president. first, i want to thank my good friend and colleague from rhode island for his important words on the floor and for indicating
that millions and millions of middle-class families and small businesses in this country expect us to figure out a way to make sure that the tax system is fair and that we have the opportunity for everyone to be able to be successful in this country and know that they've got a fair chance to make it and that the rules aren't rigged for just a few folks. and so i want to thank the distinguished senator for his comments and for his leadership in pointing out i think some very important things for a majority of americans and small businesses across the country. i rise today to speak about a very important issue that will be coming before us for a vote that directly relates to jobs. and, mr. president, as you know, that's a pretty big issue for me in michigan. we have over 11% unemployment.
i am laser focused on creating jobs and growing the economy because i think it's absolutely critical for us to get out of debt. we're not going to get out of debt with more than 14 million people out of work in this country. and we're not going to be able to move forward in a way that allows families and businesses to succeed in america if we are not able to turn this economy around and create jobs. you know, following world war ii, our country created a system of roads and bridges and railways and airports really unlike any in the world. and, in fact, countries now are looking to duplicate what we have done. and in the decades that follow followed, this important i infrastructure served as the foundation of our economic growth and prosperity, being able to move commerce and people from one place to another, and we grew. but now that infrastructure has
fallen into disrepair, not surprise,ly. we need to be doing some things to be able to rebuild and make sure our bridges are safe and to be able to move forward in a global economy and be able to have the ability to compete because we have an infrastructure that is worthy of the 21st century. more than a quarter of our nation's bridges are either structurally deficient or obsolete. think about that. one out of four. if you're driving down the road, i don't think i want to bet one out of -- a one out of pour probability that the bridge that i'm driving over with my children or my two beautiful grandchildren is safe. i think families want to know that every bridge is safe, every road is safe, and they're not going to put their families in jeopardy as they are driving on our roads and crossing our bridges.
in michigan, we have 1,400 bridges that are deficient, more than 13% of michigan's bridges. and motorists in michigan are no stranger to bad roads. and i can tell you as somebody who has the wonderful honor of representing michigan, a very large state. i spend a lot of time on the road, as do my brothers in their work, and my family on the roads, and we can tell you that every year the freezing and thawing wreaks havoc on our roads. and every year our roads are full of potholes. and i certainly can speak from experience about the expense of fixing your car when you drive over and fall in one of those big potholes. even our republican governor, rick snyder, says we need to invest in infrastructure. he recently said, michigan's infrastructure is living on
borrowed time. we must reinvest in it if we are to successfully reinvent our economy. and i couldn't agree more, and i want to commend the governor for those works and for his focus in his administration on investing in our roads and our infrastructure. we're sitting in traffic and paying the price at the pump because we have fallen behind in maintaining and improving our physical infrastructure as a country to be able to move across town or across the state or across the country. if we don't invest to fix our crumbling roads and bridges and airports now, the costs will only go up, as we know. failure to act now will cost nearly 1 million americans their jobs. that's a lot of people. that's a lot of families. that's a lot of mortgages. that's a lot of families figuring out whether or not they're going to be able to put
food on the table and send the kids to college. one million american jobs in jeopardy. and it will cost our economy nearly $1 trillion over the next ten years if we do not act. we have the opportunity to act and we have the opportunity to act right now. we can invest in rebuilding our infrastructure and it will, in turn, rebuild our economy and create jobs. the rebuild america jobs act is an opportunity to really turn the corner and to head in the right direction. not only will it upgrade 150,000 miles of roadway, improve thousands of miles of train track and modernize our nation's runways and air traffic control systems, but it will also put hundreds of thousands of people work. this is a win-win. the rebuild america jobs act will provide desperately needed repair funds and will provide
the seed money for a national infrastructure bank that will attract private-sector capital to help fund a broad range of new investments. this is such an important idea, to be able to provide seed money, to be able to attract the private sector, private capital to be able to invest, to be able to leverage the dollars that american taxpayers put in and be able to address all of our roads and bridges and -- and other infrastructure needs in a way that creates jobs. and it will have a very big impact on my great state of michigan. the plan will make immediate investments in michigan that could support at least 11,700 local jobs so critical to us right now as we're coming out of this huge jobs deficit hole that we have been in for too long. the plan to rebuild our infrastructure and put americans back to work has bipartisan
support as well and a strong support from the private sector. the presence of the u.s. chamber of commerce and the g.o.p. mayors and local officials coalition have both supported the infrastructure investments that we're talking about. this approach has strong bipartisan support. simply put, the rebuild american jobs act will fix our crumbling infrastructure, put hundreds of thousands of people back to work at the same time and it will not add a dime to our deficit. and the american people support it. so this is a win-win. and, mr. president, if i might say in conclusion, why will it not add a dime to our deficit? because we pay for it in a way that i think is very reasonable and very fair. we are asking those who are most blessed economically in our country, those who earn over a
million dollars a year to pay less than 1% -- .7% -- on any dollar they earn above the first million dollars of income. so they would be asked to have basically a surcharge to contribute to creating jobs and investing in the future of america, rebuilding america, jobs that can't go overseas, jobs at rebuilding america. and this simply -- this can be done for less than a 1% surcharge not on the first million that you earn but on the dollar that comes after or the $2 or the $5 or the $10 or the second million. so it's anything above a million dollars we are asking those in our country to -- that are in a
position to be able to help instead of going back to middle-class families, working families, senior citizens, people who have been hurt so hard in this recession for so long, instead of asking them one more time to be the ones to carry the burden, we are instead asking those who have had success, who have been blessed financially and who have benefited from this great country, whether it's with what was done to support wall street, whether it's other ways in this country, for them to be a part of the solution with less than 1% on any dollars earned above a million dollars. i think, mr. president, this is a reasonable, a fair approach. this is about jobs. we're talking about the rebuild america jobs act, putting people back to work, doing something that's incredibly important for our country, will grow the economy, will create jobs, will rebuild communities, and will
help our country move forward. so i would urge my colleagues that when we have the vote to move forward on this bill, that we all join in what has been a bipartisan set of issues, of infrastructure investment and rebuilding america. i hope we will see that in the vote that will be coming in the next couple of days. i yield the floor and would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: mr. president, i would ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. i thank and commend my distinguished colleague from michigan for those very eloquent remarks on behalf of an act that i, too, rise to support and thank the president for his very eloquent and persuasive comments
earlier in this debate on the rebuild america jobs act and the need for this nation to focus on the increasing trend in inequality and the very troubling absence of focus on the compelling obligation that we have to rebuild america at this point in our history, to rebuild our roads and bridges and ports and airports and schools. and the rebuild america jobs act would provide $50 million very direct to rebuilding our roads and bridges and railroads and airports and that is a pressing need for america. but equally pressing and important are the people hurting and struggling all across the country, people struggling to find jobs, to stay in their homes, to keep their families together.
and those struggles ought to be heard and seen in this chamber, on this floor at this moment in our history because they are americans who played by the rules and who are now out of work, out of support and soon, sadly, out of hope. for much of our time recently, we have been mired down in the politics of deficit and debt. and that is not to say that those subjects are unimportant. i believe in fiscal responsibility. i believe in cutting our debt, restraining spending, and cutting the deficit. but deficit cutting cannot be used as an excuse to gut the social safety net that we have labored hard to create over 75 years. it cannot be used to ignore the needs of people struggling to find work.
it cannot be used as a reason to neglect our critical infrastructure in this country and these sad and serious deeffects that we now find in it. one powerful and prudent means to cut the deficit and the debt is to create jobs and enable economic recovery. what really matters most to the american people now is jobs, work, employment, going back to work, back to good jobs, earning a living for the sake of not only their economic well-being but their respect and self-worth, their dignity. more is at stake here than simply a paycheck. it is the social fabric of our communities, our country, our families, and that's why it ought to be a priority. right now, investing in infrastructure in those roads
and bridges and ports and airports is one of the most immediate job creators available. the congressional budget office has found, in fact, that returning to full employment would reduce the deficit by 25%. that's way more than the political charge and very severely -- charged and very severely damaging cuts offered by many of my colleagues across the aisle. thankfully, we have a plan to put us on the path to full employment, and it's called rebuild america jobs act. this bill would put america back to work immediately by rebuilding that ailing infrastructure. now, there is no question about the need. the american society of civil engineers recently rated america's infrastructure and they gave us a d. according to the nonpartisan organization transportation for america, fairfield county in my
home state of connecticut has the fourth highest number of motorists using structurally deficient bridges among all the metropolitan areas nationwide. that is an indictment not of connecticut but of our nation, and so is the fact that over 9% of connecticut's bridges are considered structurally deficient. nationwide, in fact, the numbers are even worse. more than one in four of our nation's bridges are either structurally deficient or obsolete. no one wants another tragedy like the one we experienced in connecticut called the myannis river bridge collapse. it killed three people. it carollized the roadways in and around the bridge for months. it cost millions of dollars. it led to litigation that
spanned years. the bridge collapse almost 30 years prompted a major infrastructure in connecticut, a major infrastructure program and effort focusing on repair and reconstruction to make our bridges and roads more safe and secure. we need not await the kinds of tragedies we saw 30 years ago in connecticut, more recently in other states involving bridge collapses and other tragedies that show the deficiencies and unacceptable defects in these roads and bridges. the need is clear. at a time when civil engineers across the country are calling for vast improvements in our national infrastructure, the measure before this body would accomplish exactly that goal. it would provide aid to states to be spent at their discretion. flexibility as to the project
but not as to the purpose. the purpose would be roads, bridges, airports, railroads. this bill would invest $50 billion in upgrading and repairing 150,000 miles of road, laying or maintaining 4,000 miles of train tracks and restoring 150 miles of runways at our nation's airports. it would also provide seed money, and this purpose is really important, for a national infrastructure bank that will attract private sector capital to fund a broad range of nationally significant projects, going beyond the ones that would be immediately supportive -- supported by the $50 billion in this measure. that national infrastructure bank would be capitalized at
$10 billion, but it would attract money from private investors to do far more than would be enabled by the initial seed money. it is a bipartisan measure, long supported by senators kerry and hutchison, i'm proud to have joined them as a cosponsor, and i thank them for their leadership and i thank members on the house side, including my colleague, congresswoman rosa delauro, for supporting this measure over the years. a national infrastructure bank with leverage -- would leverage private capital and help public capital to fund a broad range of nationally significant infrastructure projects all around the country, in connecticut and elsewhere. these funds would provide an immediate boost for our economy, and it is estimated in fact that for every one dollar spent on these roads, bridges and other
infrastructure projects, our gross domestic product would be increased by about $1.59. for every one dollar, an increase of $1.59 in gross domestic product. we're talking about investment. we're talking about investment in america's future in connecticut's present as well as its future because connecticut people would go back to work, back to jobs, back to livelihoods that give them dignity and self-respect. with so many people out of work and a dire need for that kind of investment, common sense says we ought to pass this bill, we ought to do it now without delay, and we ought to do it on a bipartisan basis. there is nothing republican or democrat about investment in roads or bridges or airports or
railroads to make them safer, more secure, more efficient. i ask my colleagues, regardless of party, to stand with us and millions of americans out of work to come together and find a way to pass the rebuild america jobs act. let's pass this bill now. let's do it together without any more delay. people are continuing to struggle and seek work, and this bill is the right thing for america, it's the right thing for connecticut. let's do it now. thank you, mr. president.
mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: is the senate now having a quorum call? the presiding officer: it is. mr. reid: i ask consent that be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i move to proceed to calendar number 213, s. 1769. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, moves to
proceed to s. 1769, a bill to put workers back on the job while rebuilding and modernizing america. mr. reid: i have a cloture motion at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion. the clerk: cloture motion. wet theth the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing ruled of the senate, hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the motion to proceed to calendar number 213, s. 1769, a bill to put workers back on the job while rebuilding and modernizing america. signed by 18 senators as follows. reid of nevada -- mr. reid: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the mandatory quorum under rule 22 be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, i'm hopeful we won't have to have a vote on this matter. this is to protect us so that if we can't work something out, that we will have a vote thursday morning. i hope that we can work something out to have a vote on this most important measure, very important, a piece of legislation that an entire
population of america supports by a ratio of some 76%. republicans support it, democrats support it, independents support t. the only support it. the only people in the world that don't support it are the republicans in the senate. so i hope we can work something out and it would be unnecessary for us to have cloture invoked or try to have cloture voacd. i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to executive session to consider numbers 412 and 414 you can the motions to be considered en bloc, the motions to proceed be considered made and laid on the table, no further motions be in order to any of the nominations and any statements be printed in the record, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask consent that the senate proceed to s. res. 308. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. res. 308, designating november 27, 2011, as drive safer sunday.
the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, the senate adjourn until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, november 2. that following the prayer and the pledge, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the morning hour be deemed expired, the time for the two leaders be reserved for later in the day. following any leader remarks, the be -- the senate be in a period of morning business for one hour, with the time controlled by the leaders or designees with the democrats controlling the first half and the republicans the final half. finally, the senate resume consideration of the rebuild america jobs act. we're going to come in, it's my understand, mr. president, at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow morning. i filed cloture on the motion to proceed on the jobs bill f. no agreement is reached, the vote will be thursday morning, as i
you will receive the answer in due course, do not worry. >> i am prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over, if that's your decision. >> he was the u.n. ambassador for president kennedy during the cuban missile crisis and twice ran as the democratic nominee for president and lost. adlai stevenson is featured on "the contenders" from the stephenson family home inpp illinois. for a preview including more of his speeches and other videos, go to our special web site, c-span.org/thecontenders. >> a coalition of conservation groups today called on congress to avoid cuts to interior department programs for conservation, recreation and preservation. among the speakers, the great grandson of president theodore roosevelt, the president of the wilderness society, and a former fish and wildlife invest director. this is about 45 minutes.
>> okay, i think we're all set and ready to go. i'm the president and ceo of the theodore roosevelt conservation partnership. i want to thank all of you for coming today and thank the folks on the phone for tune anything and/or thank the national press club for hosting us. we'll have four speakers after me, and there are several other people in the audience who have questions as well. the speakers are the president and ceo of the nature conservancy, dale hall is the president and ceo of ducks unlimited, stephanie meeks and bill meadows, the president of the -- [inaudible] society. our key speaker who will lead off is ted roosevelt, theodore roosevelt iv, and i want to thank him for taking a break to come to us today. ted is, obviously, a leading figure in the conservation movement today as well as great
grandson of theodore roosevelt. also in the room are ron reagan from the association of fish and wildlife agencies and rob southwick whose economic report will be profiled today. at the end of these remarks, we'll open the floor to questions. folks -- we'll do folks here in person first will be allowed to ask follow-up questions, then we'll go to people on the phone who will not be able to ask follow-up questions. um, the reason we're here today is to stress the importance of federal funding for conservation, outdoor recreation and historic preservation. when the house passed h.r. 1 in the spring, i think it was a wake-up call to all off our communities. the bill reduced or eliminated many of the federal programs that have formed the foundation of conservation in america, programs from the land and water conservation fund to the conservation program to the farm bill were gutted, even eliminated. the programs hardest hit were the nonregulatory cost-share programs for the states and
private landowners. one thing became perfectly clear after h.r. 1, we had to get past fighting for our individual pet programs and work together on broad conservation, recreation and preservation funding. a new coalition was formed, america's voice for conservation, recreation and preservation. at that time in the summer, the coalition had about 670 groups and businesses signed on. the group sent a letter to majority leader reid and to speaker boehner making the case for conservation funding, but also offering to work with congress to make sure that every program merited funding and was successful and cost effective as possible. as of today, that coalition has now grown to a thousand groups and businesses that have signed on. the letter to coalition members are available at the front desk and also at our web site,
www.trpc.org. we also realized we had to make a better case for funding. the foundation commissioned a report from rob southwick, and southwick associates is, arguably, the nation's leading outdoor economic research firm. conservation, outdoor reck vegas and historic preservation. that report released earlier this month documents that these activities generate more than a trillion dollars in economic activity every year and support 9.4 million jobs. it also brings in $107 billion in tax revenues to the country every year. that full report is also available at trpc.org. so let me turn it over with that background to our first speaker,
ted roosevelt. >> good, whit, thank you very much. it's a pleasure to be here. all of us are stewards here today, stewards in the old-fashioned sense of the world, stewards that we protect assets that have been given to us. all of us here are dismayed by the collapse of our country's fiscal policies, and we are dismayed by the disfunction of our political process in washington that paralyzes policy, or worse, produces bad policy. in a desperate bid to rein in our fiscal deficits, we're seeing cuts in discretionary spending that is essential to the outdoor economy of boating, bicycling, hiking, birding, camping, hunting, fishing and historic preservation, to name a few. the economic activity associated with outdoor recreation and historic preservation, as whit has mentioned, is pred juice, and at first glance you think
how can it be that large? but let's just travel around the east coast, the gulf coast, the woas coast and look at all the marinas you will see there. boating activity, they employ lots of people. 2008, more than one in four americans went boating. go to lewistown, montana, and you'll see in this small town of 5,000 people that the center, the most active, vibrant economic activity there is the sporting goods store. americans from all over the place come to buy and hunt and fish there. cutting the federal programs that protect and conserve outdoor recreation is a false economy. as stewards, we should be outraged by this false economy which if carried out will make our economy even worse. southwick's numbers do not take into account the value of environmental services. two examples. 80% of california's water comes
from watersheds on our national forests. the city of new york, where i work, we would probably have paid -- had we not put in place the catskill reservoir system -- we would have paid ten years ago $12-$14 billion to put in a filtering system. i'd hate to think of what that filtering system would cost today. i am hopeful, however, that the creation of this coalition of over a thousand businesses, organizations, ngos who see and know the importance of national resource conservation, outdoor reck vegas and -- recreation and historic preservation, they speak for the country and it citizens. they represent a return to a nonpartisan approach to outdoor recreation and historic preservation. this country is unique because of what its forebearers have given us. in terms of historic sites, public lands and wilderness. no other country has what we
have. no other country allows its common citizens to as much opportunity to reck rate over such a diverse and extraordinary range of activities and resources. i urge congress to listen to this coalition and honor the bequest of our forebearers. there is a quote on the walls of the american museum of natural history in new york city which i'll share with you. there are no words that can tell the hidden meaning of the wilderness that can reveal its mysteries, its melancholy and its charm. i leave it to you to guess whose words those are. [laughter] [applause] >> thank you, ted. our next speaker who also hails from the wall street area is mark you are the sick, the president and -- turcik.
he took over that foundation in 2008. >> thank you, whit. thanks, ted, for those inspiring comments. it's a pleasure to represent the conservancy today and as part of this great coalition. america's voice for conservation, recreation and historic preservation, tnc's proud to be a signatory along with a thousand organizations. why would a thousand organizations rally together for this cause? let me talk about that from the perspective of our business, nature conservation. why would people rally around this? well, there are many reasons, but the key reason is that americans support conservation. they support investments in nature. why? because nature, an invest. in nature produces a tangible and real return. nature's not a luxury good, nature's a vital underpinning for human well being, and americans understand that. what kind of returns can you get from investments in the nature? safe and plentiful water supplies, mitigation of natural
hazards, reductions in pollution, support of agriculture and forestry, outdoor recreation opportunities. this is a big deal. investments in nature generate jobs, they generate economic momentum, and they generate these very tangible returns that humankind counts on. so that's why we think people are rallying around this cause, and that's important for americans and our legislators to understand. that's my first point. second point, federal budget spending on nature conservation amounts to a grand total of 1.26% of the federal budget. why do i mention that number? 11.26 -- 1.26 percent of the budget? because spending on nature conservation didn't cause the deficit and can't fix the deficit. therefore, it's important that we urge congress to understand cuts to nature conservation should not be disproportionate. third point, third and final point, that's not to say that
investments in nature and government activities in these areas can't be optimized, can't be improved, can't be redesigned so we get more bang for the buck. the conservancy is strongly in favor and looking hard at federal spending in nature on conservation spending to fine tune investments so that the better programs are grown and those programs that should be cut back are cut back as appropriate. but the key message i want to make is nature's not a luxury item, nature, rather, should be viewed as capital infrastructure, a vital underpinning of the economy and human well being. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you, mark. our third speaker is dale hall who's the president and ceo of ducks unlimited. it's also worth noting that dale is a former director of the u.s. fish and wildlife service. >> thank you, whit. i think it's very appropriate that theodore roosevelt iv is here with us today because the
conservation movement and what we know today as the north american model for wildlife conservation really started with theodore roosevelt and moved forward. so i think i want to lay the foundation a little bit so that people understand what conservationists have done for the fish and wildlife resources of this country over time. it started off with the sportsmen standing up to argue against commercial hunting. commercial hunting was destroying the resource, taking more than it could bring back, that nature could restore. and it was the sportsmen, the hunters and the anglers that stood up along with people in the birding world of audubon and others that got to be one voice. and spoke out to say this is something that is not sustainable, and we can't keep it going. and so it started there and went on through with the lacy act being passed once the law started coming into place that said you can't violate the law
in one place and move over into another state. that same group of people argued for those. and then along comes the depression. the stock market crash, and if you think the recession we've been through is bad, go back and look at the historic literature and the films about bread lines and people that were truly starving. and then at the same time we had the dust bowl all going on at the same time. and yet it was duck hunters that stood up and said it was free yesterday, but somebody's got to pay for the resource, and so go ahead and tax us, make us buy a stamp. and so in 1934 the migratory bird-hunting conservation stamp was passed. we know it as the duck stamp today. and was passed, and so a dollar -- at that time -- was offered up to have to go hunting which was free the day before in the middle of the recession, in the middle of the dust bowl. and then three years later we had two and three years later we had the pitman-robertson act in
which hunters said tax us on our firearms and ammunition, but the money must go to conservation, must go to the habitat. and then in 1937 ducks unlimited was formed to do just exactly that for waterfowl and waterfowl happen at the. and that has moved on forward through the decades. so from the beginning the user, if you will, was the true conservationist that has stood up and said conservation has to be done, somebody has to do it, and we're willing to pay. that's the foundation of what has gotten us here today and why this coalition is really not something new. it has more members, but back in the days of forming that coalition to get rid of commercial hunting, the same sorts of people were coming together to argue against that. and so this thousand-group coalition is very important. so why are we really here though today? we want to make the point that conservation and natural resources are true values in
this system, shown social values for us. but if you need to talk about the deficit, if you need to talk about the debt, let's talk about them. let's talk about what makes us money and what doesn't make us money. and what we're finding out, and the southwick report will confirm this, is the monieses that are invested in conservation are doubled, tripled, quadrupled by private dollars that we and others like us bring in to pay the bills so that, for example, the land and water conservation fund, $1 appropriated by congress generates $4 in economic revenue and economy around a refuge. in the north american wetlands conservation act, $1 invested by congress is matched by us to take it to over $4 in conservation investment. and in the tax arena, more than $14 billion a year is paid directly back into the federal treasury from the jobs created
in hunting and fishing across this country so that the investment that's made by congress and the american people is more than offset. by the taxes that are paid back each year in that generating economy. so our point really is simple. first of all, we as a citizenry, aldo leopold's citizen conservationists have always been there, we've always been willing to pay, and we're simply asking congress if you want to take care of the deficit -- and we want you to -- if you want to reduce the debt -- and we want you to -- don't throw away those things that make you money. look as we would at our kitchen table and look at those things that cost us money and don't give us the return on investment; conservation, preservation, recreation give us that return on our dollars, and that is exactly what the american people deserve. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you, dale. our next speaker is
ms. stephanie meeks who is the president of the national trust for historic preservation and a career nature conservancy staff member before that. >> thank you. hello, everybody. let's see if i can get this down to the right size. it's good to be here with you this afternoon. some people may be wondering what is historic preservation doing as part of this coalition of a thousand organizations, and the answer is really quite simple. we believe that the impulse that guides conservation of natural resources is the very same impulse and value that guides the preservation of our cultural resources as a country. we know that the people who support the national trust also support many of the conservation organizations that are involved in this coalition, and we believe that this is really all part of one equation about the sustainability of the american enterprise. i wanted to touch on two elements specifically that are in the southwick and associates report that was handed out or distributed last month, and one is on historic tax credits,
federal historic tax credits, and the second are the benefits of heritage tourism. the study that was released by southwick and associates includes a report that was commissioned by the national trust for historic preservation through our subsidiary, the national trust community investment corporation. the study was completed by rutgers university and shows that there's really a very remarkable impact in one particular tool, the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit. and i wanted to mention it today because jobs are on everyone's minds, they're on our minds, and we know that they're certainly on the minds of all the members of congress. since its inception, the federal rehabilitation tax credit has created more than two million jobs, its leveraged $90.4 billion in private investment and aided in the rehabilitation of 37,000 existing buildings. it's an average economic impact of $6.6 billion and 61,000 jobs
every year for 29 years. and what i think is especially important to note is that this is a tax credit that has more than paid for itself. it's generated $22.3 billion in federal tax revenue to offset just 11.7 billion in tax expendtures. so this is a program that is generating jobs, generating very high quality jobs. i also wanted to point out the very positive impacts of heritage tourism. um, it's another significant economic driver, and just to cite one specific example, in 2008 15 million people visited civil war battlefields managed by the park service, just that one subset of the national park system. and those 15,000 visitor supported 7,700 jobs. so we know that heritage tourism, just that one example which can be amplified so many times more over historic communities and other cultural resources in our country. given this tremendous impact, we
were really gratified by the news a few weeks ago that the senate interior appropriations committee chaired by senator jack reed has suggested and proposed a very strong funding for the historic preservation fund this year, a $10 million increase. it exceeds the limits, the funding levels proposed by the house and recommends more funding than was enacted into law. we were also pleased to see that the senate has proposed $3 million for save america's treasures which has been one of the country's most important bricks and mortar funding sources for the rehabilitation and preservation of cultural resources in the country. the national trust was very proud to help establish that program and to be the principle private partner of three administrations in the implementation of the program. and it's had really remarkable results and has helped to protect very important american icons and landmarks such as "the
star-spapg led banner," ellis island and the september 11th -- [inaudible] we're very proud to be a part of all of that. these and all these preservation projects really help to upside score the role of -- underscore the role of preservation and economic and cultural and even environmental sustainability. they demonstrate our country's commitment to maintaining the very fabric of our life as a society and the national trust is very pleased to be working with all the partners in the coalition. thank you very much. [applause] >> and our final speaker of the panel will be bill meadows who since 1996 has led the wilderness society. i'll also ask bill if he could sort of field the questions and redirect them as they come in from the panel at the end of his remarks. >> whit, thanks very much.
you know, there have been several very eloquent statements here this afternoon, and on behalf of the work of this coalition that i'm delighted to be part of and to help, to help lead with good friend john now who's a business match from houston, texas, and been very actively engaged in conservation and historic preservation mostly through the civil war battlefield preservation trust where he serves as chairman emeritus. you know, what you've heard are a lot of numbers, and when you read the southwick report, you'll see a lot of numbers. they're persuasive. i think they're certainly persuasive, have been persuasive to many of our political leaders that conservation, recreation and historic preservation are, indeed, positive drivers of our economic environment. the core message of this
1,000-organization coalition is that investment in conservation, recreation and historic preservation is good for the economy, it's good for jobs, it's good for our quality of life. and i think these numbers are really critical and make note of them, but it's this quality of life, i think, that we see. we've heard people, everyone here has talked about these issues as an asset. conservation, recreation, historic preservation as an asset for our country. and i think when you think about the values that this coalition represents, it's not just the economic argument, it is that we are arguing on behalf of a critical asset or a series of assets to our country. we can demonstrate that there is a return on those assets, a return on investment on those assets, and it is extraordinarily powerful. i think the reason that we have 1,000 members in this coalition is because people see the impact in their own lives, in their own
commitments. so these -- communities. so these investments are not something that are vague, uncertain that we dream about. they are, in fact, precise, direct, and people who live in local commitments, particularly rural communities, are benefiting directly from the investment in conservation, recreation and historic preservation. that's the story we're telling. we're delighted that the southwick study supports that in many very tangible ways, but it's deeper. it is about what is this country about and what are we trying to communicate to our political leaders. i'm very pleased that the coalition has had an enormous impact, i think. you just look at the mark in the senate, it hits right at the 2011 enacted budget. i think when we started this coalition in the summer, we never dreamed we'd be able to have that kind of result.
now we've got to take it over the finish line. i thank you for your participation, your interest. i'm delighted to field questions and direct them to people who might be able to answer them more precisely. so let me just start with are there any, is there any press here who would like to ask a question, then i'll turn to anyone on the line. yep. why don't you identify yourself, and then i'll direct the question. >> my name is sara gonzalez from agripulse communications, and i direct my question to mr. tercek. i was wondering if you could go into more detail on the conservation programs included in the farm bill and how you would suggest streamlining or cutting those in a way that would still be responsible. >> yeah, come up. >> thank you for the question about the farm bill. yeah, that's, we think, a ripe area for analysis. we think there are really great
programs, great because they lever private capital as dallas said, so federal spending is levered up by cooperative funding from the private sector, and they're programs that do things that are just very obviously in our country's best interest. for example, recreation of floodplains along the river absorb flood waters and retain nutrient runoff from farms reducing floods, reducing dead zones in the gulf. so those are pretty tang and easy to understand returns from that levered spending. so we think those kinds of programs would stack up and compare very well to any other federal spending programs that you'd want to compare it to. now, how can you improve government spend anything this area? that's a trickier question, but if you take a look at the agencies that are responsible for a lot of this funding, you see overlap between one agency and another and that kind of thing. so that's where the conservancy has urged that our government
leaders try to bear down and make good progress. and we've submitted some papers along those lines which we can provide to the audience. thank you. >> thanks, mark. others? from the press? anybody on the line? questions from others in the audience? and we'll interrupt when there's anybody on the line. did we tell you everything that you wanted to know? [laughter] >> bill, i think you'd better offer a bottle of wine to ask a question. [laughter] >> well -- [inaudible] >> actually, could you use the microphone, please? >> oh. >> thank you. diane hoffman from the nature conservancy. given our present economic and conservation challenges that our cup faces, do you think that we are in a position today that is similar to over 100 years ago when your great grandfather was president? >> that's a, that's a very good
question, and the answer to it is, it depends. i think you see a lot of similarities in that at the turn of the century there were americans determined to develop our economy at all costs without understanding, without caring about the environment. i believe firmly you cannot have a healthy economy without a strong, healthy environment. you can see that in terms of clean drinking water, you can see a country like china where probably 40% of its water supplies are so badly polluted, they can't even be used for industrial activities, much less for drinking. there's a very clear nexus or connection there. i think we're better in understanding that, but we still have, unfortunately, people who are pushing too hard, and they will have hidden agendas, and they will try to attach riders to bill that get their hidden agendas going. so that part of it still exists. but i think as a nation we're probably more informed, but we've got to remember that we
have to stick to our guns and stick to our principles in the face of economic hardship. the one area that i think is different, and it causes me pause, we are more polarized than i think we've ever been in our nation's history with the possible exception of the eve of the civil war. that degree of polarization is something that we as a nation are going to have to learn how to overcome so we can remember that we're all in in the same boat, and we need to start pulling together. if we can do that, then i become much more optimistic about our future. >> let me just add a comment on to what ted just said. one of the things that's really impressed me about the coalition is its nonpartisan nature. you know, it was actually designed to reach across both sides of the aisle, the emphasis has been trying to build support and awareness for these conservation, recreation and preservation values both
republican and democrat. interests. finish and, you know, i've been very, very pleased with the response that we've had. i think that there is, on these issues, less polarization. when it gets down to making decisions about budgets, there is more, i think, polarization. but these issues have really, i think, carried the day in communicating across both sides of the aisle. other questions? >> hi there, laura peterson with land letter and e and e publishing. i know this is a coalition of all sorts of conservation, but i was curious, um, if there are certain types of conservation or preservation that you think face larger challenges or hurdles for funding or support from congress right now than others.
>> anybody want to -- um, well thank you. [laughter] you know, i think that this is, unfortunately, across the board, one. you know, i think that there are, you know, clearly some of the issues have become a bit polarized, so i think it's not surprising that i think the challenge for regulatory environmental protection is much, taking a lot more heat than, let's say, um, preservation for hunting and fishing communities. but i think there is, there is a deep awareness at the local level of what impact conservation reductions have on the quality of life in those communities. and so when you, when you're able to translate these issues, for example, on environmental protection if you transfer that
to water communities and sewage treatment plants, for example, there's a lot more support for the conservation spending,ing, o it's a matter of interpreting these issues in a way that, i think, have greater resonance. it really is across the board, although i think there's greater support for the traditional conservation work than there is for environmental policy work. >> thank you. tom franklin, theodore roosevelt conservation partnership. welcome, everybody. this is for you, mr. meadows. as chair, or as co-chair of the coalition, how would you describe your experience in working with these groups, and what do you think are the greatest strengths of the coalition? >> tom, thank you. first of all, it's been really quite rewarding experience for me. um, when john now and i started this, as i said before, we had
no idea that we'd be able to have the kind of reception and the number of people would be engaged. we never thought there'd be a thousand members of this coalition, so there are a lot of people who have worked to get that done, and i'll single out people on, at the table. i mean, particularly ducks unlimited, i think theodore roosevelt conservation partnership have been critical in building that coalition. land trust alliance has been very, very helpful. i think the greatest reward is that diversity. and we knew from the beginning that we needed to be able to gather people at the local commitments and have people -- communities and have people who were able to talk with their individual members of congress. it's only when you're able to do that that you're going to have the kind of political success that i think we are on the verge of having. so that's been the most rewarding, is the response, the kind of intensity, um, that i think has come from people in the, within the coalition and
the willingness to really go the extra mile in communicating a very, very strong political message. so -- i think john now would say the same thing. i think he has been -- we've gone and many members, into the offices of many members of congress, and we are getting, the kind of comment we get is, oh, i've heard that back in my community. or we had a town hall meeting, and this was an issue that was talked about. we just keep hearing that over and over again. so it's resonating up and going back down as well. yeah. >> ellen ferguson, congressional quarterly. um, i'm going back to the deficit reduction panel. are there any members on that panel that you consider to be natural allies or allies on the issue of conservation? >> anybody want to take that on? do you want me to -- >> [inaudible] >> go ahead. dale will, dale hall.
>> i think the interesting thing about the supercommittee is that it is a mixture of house and senate, it is a mixture of republicans and democrats, but as we have our experiences with them over the past, everyone pretty much sees conservation, recreation, preservation as a nonpartisan issue. i think the issue, the real issue, challenge that they have is an understanding that there needs to be more education and less emotion. emotional decisions which have, we've been seeing a lot of those lately. i get mad, so i'm going to cut. or i get mad so i don't want this, and that's not related to any particular party. both parties can claim success there. but i think that all of us up here are business people. some are for-profit, some are not-for-profit, but we know when
we make a decision it should be based on facts, not on emotion. and i think what we are trying to overcome is a sort of wave that came into congress and them believing that the people back home just wanted them to cut. and all we're trying to do is say slow down, let's do real an cease. let's -- analyses. let's look at things for their economic, for their human value and all those things, and you can make your decision. if you don't agree with us, fine. but we'd like to know that you have really looked at our numbers, you've seen the economics that are driven by these different kinds of functions, and the payback to the american people that come in. so i really don't believe that there's a friend or foe, as you would, on that supercommittee. i believe that we have people that we just simply want to put the right information in their hands so they can do unemotional analyses, good analyses and try and make good decisions.
>> great. thanks, dale. >> neil schroeder with the -- [inaudible] this is a question for mr. roosevelt and mr. tercek. you both have private sector experience, and i was hoping you could elucidate on some of the impacts you see land conservation having in the private sector. >> ted? >> i think you see a couple things, in fact, a number of things in terms of conservation, the impact on the private sector and a recognition in the private sector of the economic opportunities that we see. um, let's talk a little bit about climate change which, to me s a conservation issue. it effects biodiversity. it's leading to, arguably, the
sixth grade extinction. it's a huge issue. there are immense economic opportunities that are come out of driving policy to mitigate climate change; wind, solar, biofuels, biochemicals. these opportunities are very much part of what i call prudent risk management. you can talk, you can believe or not believe in the science of climate change. i clearly believe in it. but even if you're a businessman that doesn't fully accept the science, prudent risk management strongly suggests that the fat tail risk of the damage that'll be done by climate change is something that requires policies and objectives put in place that the private sector can really address. and that, to me, is a very good example of the combination of why good public policies to achieve conservation, natural resource management whether you're talking about protecting a salmon fishery in alaska and
not letting the pebble bed mine go ahead. these conservation issues represent very good economics. >> thanks, ted. i agree with that, and i think the question's an interesting one. the first thing i would say as a former private sector person is these programs should be thought of as investment programs, not spending programs. we're not, we're not dribbling the money out. we're, rather, investing in infrastructure in a way to produce very tangible returns. so that'd be point number one. and then, you know, point number two, what are the returns that we're talking about? we've enumerated many of them. but there are things like protecting arable land. that's important because we need food. protecting regulation of the natural water cycle. that's important, we need clean water to drink. sequestering carbon to build up on ted's comment. we can go right down the list. i mentioned flood control or reduction of blew taxes and runoff into rivers. these investment programs yield
very tangible and real returns. and then there are even more obvious ones, i suppose, of jobs and spending connected to outdoor recreation. so i believe if you think about these programs as investments and you try to identify specific returns that can be obtained from these investments, then one can quickly conclude that these are very high-returning investments and ought to be protected. thanks. >> i would, i would just add and maybe this is self-evident, but the, you know, what happens when you think about these as investments and creating the kind of economic environment in which people can have some opportunity to create a return on investment. that is directly, almost always directly, driven by the private sector. so it's looking at the private sector relationship to the opportunity that the public sector provides that, i think, really gives us this kind of leverage that we've talked about.
yep. >> mark, association of fish and wildlife agencies. a question for you, dale. you spoke a little bit about the legacy of hunters and contributing to conservation. what are they telling you when you go out to meetings in terms of their concerns about conservation cuts? >> well, i found myself very privileged to be associated with ducks unlimited because ducks unlimited is really a conservation organization. we have all respected hunters and tried to support them because over the years hunters have been our primary supporter. but when we interview them and send out these surveys, they say the number one reason they're a part of our organization is because of conservation. and as we began to send the message, and can we've been doing that on a regular basis
through our e-mails, through our web sites, etc., to make sure people understood the issue, and what i have found is the more information that they have to understand what the issue is, the more support we get. and i've, when i go out to visit with our million or so constituents and be supporters, i get nothing but support for this. i get people saying how can i help, and, of course, my answer is go talk to your member of congress and help them understand these issues and both the ecological values that are provided by wetlands and habitat, but also the economics that are provided. but i get nothing but support from our organization and from the people within it. so i think hunters are embracing this. they have understood for a long time that it is their role, first, to make sure the resource is there and then to go enjoy it. >> [inaudible] >> i just wanted to follow up on
dale's point a little bit. i also think there's a sense that a lot of the hunters and anglers are angry because they feel this is a partnership. they buy their licenses, they buy their duck stamps, they contribute into this thing. states kick in a bunch of money, and in return they expect a federal investment as well. we talked about it being 1.26% of the budget, that is down from 1970. so i think the percentage has been declining steadily for the past 30 years. so i think in addition to, you know, appreciating the conservation programs we have, there's a sense that people are a little ticked off that deficit reduction is being on the backs of the folks that are actively contributing and really undermining the partnership that has existed for much of this century. >> one more question, and then we're going to close it off if there is one. >> [inaudible] >> i just, i just learned of this activity a little bit ago. i can identify some of the organizations by their name. i've not read your report, i
have no idea if it's broached the subject of preserving america's outdoors to reck rate at the expense of new development. in the purview of most metropolitan areas i'm aware of, development has proceeded outward rather than redeveloping inward, and i'm just wondering if your report or any of your individual organizational thinking has approached this subject. >> um, i think that the historic preservation story is an important one here. stephanie, you want to address that? >> thanks so much for the question. um, you're right, certainly the outward progression of cities has been very challenging for landscapes and for the natural resource community. the historic preservation community is very eager to see the redevelopment and reuse of buildings in urban cores. it keeps our buildings out of landfills, it helps with keeping
carbon limb takes down as we -- limitations down as we think about the development of cement and the harvesting of natural resource products that need to go into building new buildings and new construction. so this report talks, does talk about the benefits of preservation in ig to natural resource conservation and the impacts of programs like the historic tax credits. i think i spoke about these before you came into the room, the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit which is designed to do exactly what you've described of course keep buildings in service, retrograde and upgrade them so they can meet the demands of a 21st century work force and to have all of those tangible environmental benefits and the intangible culture benefits of keeping our historic fabric intact. >> um, let me thank you for coming, but he me just say one more word in closing. um, we've talked about, um, the
reducing investment in conservation, recreation and preservation over the last many years. um, what we saw this summer beginning in the spring really was decisions being made about these budgets that did not consider conservation, recreation and historic preservation at all. we would be negotiating continuing resolutions, we'd be negotiating budgets for 2011 or 2012 now or looking at the debt ceiling debate. and nowhere was there voice for these conservation, recreation and preservation interests. that's why we founded the coalition. and you can see from the response that there are many, many people who agree, that that voice needs to be heard. we've tried to amplify that in
many ways with participation in town hall meetings during the summer, lots of people calling in, sending letters, faxes. but it, these are issues that are very local, and so it's being able to communicate effectively to your elected representative. it is too bad that these issues have become political, you know? the economic investment in these values are real, we understand them, we see a trillion dollars in economic impact from the work that all of us in this table and many in this room are doing. almost ten million jobs directly related to that impact. i'm delighted that southwick was able to do the kind of study that documents much of that. i think it adds great power to the story. but ultimately, it is going to be a story that is decided, you know, by the congress. when they make decisions yes or no on conservation, recreation and preservation. we think we've told a good
story. we're asking, you know, all of our members of these 1,000 organizations to communicate that to their elected officials. thank you for being here and thank you for helping us tell that story. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> the former co-chairman of the president's debt commission told the joint deficit reduction committee today that he's worried that they're going to fail. the joint committee is tasked with finding a billion and a half dollars to reduce the deficit. erskine bowles and alan simpson, the co-chairmen of the president's debt commission, testified before congress' deficit committee today. their opening statements are almost 15 minutes. >> i know most of you.
i've worked closely with almost all of you on both sides of the aisle. i have great respect for even -- each of you individually. but collectively i'm worried you're going to fail. fail the country. when alan and i first got into this, we thought we were doing it for our 15 grandkids. i have nine, and he has six. but the closer we got to the numbers, the more we realized we with respect doing it for -- we weren't doing it for our grandkids, we with respect even doing it for our kids, we were doing it for us. that's how dire the situation is today. i think that we face the most predictable economic crisis in history. i know that the fiscal path we
are on near washington is not sustainable. and i know that each of you know it. and you see it because it's as clear as day. when alan and i travel around the country and we talk to people and we ask them why do you think we have these deficits, they tell us, oh, it's got to be waste, fraud and abuse, it's got to be foreign aid, oil company subsidies. and, yes, all of those are a small part of the problem. but the big problem really comes from four sources, and you know it. the first is health care. we spend twice as much as any developed country in the world on health care. and, unfortunately, if you look
at the outcomes, our outcomes don't match the outlays. we rank somewhere between 25th and 50th in things like infant mortality, life expectancy, preventable, preventable death. and so the rapid growth of health care and the unsustainable growth of health care is our number one problem. the second biggest problem today, i believe, is that we spend in this country more than the next 14 largest countries combined on defense. admiral mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff who just stepped down, recently said that our biggest national security problem is these deficits and this debt.
because it will consume every dollar resource we have. we believe that we have to make reasonable cuts in defense. third, i believe that we have the most ineffective, inefficient, anti-competitive tax system that man could dream up. what we believe you need to do is broaden the base, simplify the code, eliminate or at least greatly reduce this back door spending that's in the tax code and use that money to bring down rates and reduce the deficit. and the fourth cause of the deficit simply interest on the debt. and if there's one thing i'm familiar with, it's the power of come pound interest.
compound interest. and when interest rates go back to normal, this country's going to experience the power of compound interest. this is a problem we can't grow our way out of. we could have double-digit growth for decades and not solve in the problem. solve this problem. and as the chairman said, it's not a problem we can solely tax our way out of. raising taxes doesn't do a darn thing to change the demographics of a country or change the fact that health care's growing at a faster rate than gdp. and it's also not a problem that we can solely cut our way out of. i think you all have proven that over the last year. that's why our commission came up with a balanced plan of $4 trillion of deficit reduction over the next decade. we didn't make the $4 trillion number up because the number 4
bus rode down the street. four trillion is shot the maximum -- is not the maximum amount, it's not the ideal amount, it is the minimum amount we need to reduce the deficit in order to stabilize the debt and get it on a downward path as a percent of gdp. we based this proposal on six basic principles. those principles are that we shouldn't do anything to disrupt a very fragile economic recovery, so we made very light cuts in 2011 and '12 and did not get spending back to pre-cry is sis levels until -- pre-crisis levels until 2013 when we did get it back to pre-crisis levels in real terms. secondly, we department want to do anything that would truly hurt the disadvantaged, so we department make any cuts -- we didn't make any cuts in things like food stamps or ssi or worker's comp, and we actually
did some things to improve social security while making it sustainably solvent. third, we do want to make sure this country's safe and secure, but we have to realize, as admiral mullen said, that our biggest national security problem is the deficits. fourth, we thought the president was right or at least half right in his state of the union when he said america must invest in education, infrastructure and high value-added research if we're going to be competitive in a knowledge-based, global economy. what he left out is we have to do it in a fiscally responsible manner. we live in a world of limited resources. that means choices and priorities. fifth, as i said earlier, we believe we have to revise the tax code, simplify the tax code to broaden the base to reduce
the tax expenditures and use the proceeds to reduce rates and to reduce the deficit. and lastly, we have to be serious about spending cuts. we have to cut spending wherever it is whether it's in the tax code, the defense budget, the nondefense budget, discretionary budget or the entitlement budget. i believe if you all go big, if you're bold and if you do it in a smart manner, that the american people will support you. if you make these big, bold, smart decisions. i hope for the country's sake you will. thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. bowles. senator simpson, you are now recognized. >> senator murray and representative hensarling, it's a pleasure to be here. i look at this panel, and i, too, know many of you.
but at this age of life i've been around the track a while in this game. never worked with finer people than erskine and alice and pete and been working through years. it is -- we don't need charts when we go out. we don't use powerpoints, we just say if you spend more than you earn, you lose your butt. and if you spend a buck and borrow 42 cents of it, you've got to be stupid. now, people do hear that, it's a rather wretched thing to say. and then you say today your country is borrowing 4,600,000,000, and we'll borrow that tomorrow and the next day and the next day. if that has any common sense to the american people, it certainly has escaped us. now, my dad was a golf and u.s. senator -- a governor and u.s. senator. i know the game of inside baseball, and i know many of you well. as we wandered through this
place a year ago, people came up and said, save us from ourselves. that's not a very smart thing to say in the duties you have to perform. so this is the toughest thing you have ever been in or ever will be in, without question, what you're doing. you have my deepest admiration and respect, all of you. and you all know what you have to do. in your gut. you know what you have to do. so some will say, well, you and erskine have nothing to lose. you're not in the game. well, that's true. but dick durbin and tom coburn had a lot to lose, a couple of diverse ideological allies. they had something to lose, and they stepped right up to the plate and did it. they voted for our report. there were five democrats five republicans and one independent. i used to take these people on when i was in the congress. i did not do this suddenly.
i'm the only living person that had a hearing on the aarp. they went goofy, absolutely ballistic. why would you have a hearing on us? we do great things. well, that's enough of that. so anyway, i have dealt with professional veterans, i have dealt with extremists of the senior citizens, i have dealt we we -- with emotion, i did immigration, social security, i've dope it all. and -- i've done it all. and i never lost, i never lost an election. i dealt with peter o dean know, a great democrat, and ron rizoli. i took on the professional veterans. i never heard anything out of bob dole or dan inouye, it was always from some guy who had never done anything, never been in the military. and in immigration i was called a bigot and racist, and yet that bill brought three million people out of the dark. i was very proud of that.
but it never got very far because the right and the left said this is a national id card. [laughter] that came from the right and the left. people admire guts and courage. they may fight you, they may vilify you, but they will admire you. i've been the toast of the town one day and toast the next. i've been on the a list and the z list in this town when i was here. it's a funny place. you're on the cover of "time" one month, and six months later you're doing it -- [laughter] and just a quick note about grover norquist. if grover norquist is now the most powerful man in america, he should run for president. there's no question about his power, and let me tell you he has people in central. that's a terrible phrase. lincoln used it. means your mind has been captured. you're in bondage with the soul. so here he is. i asked him, he said, my hero's ronald reagan. i said, well, he raised taxes 11 times in his